Educator Called ‘Model for Racial Harmony’ Hit by Lawsuit of Sex/Racial Harassment

The superintendent of Greenburgh Central School District in Westchester County, New York has had a lawsuit filed against him in federal court charging that he racially and sexually harassed employees. This is interesting in that this same superintendent was once lauded as a “model for racial harmony” by The New York Times.

Superintendent Ronald O. Ross is accused of calling staff members “Oreo,” “white devil,” and “dyke,” as well as disparaging Jews and other races, often right to the faces of his employees.

The lawsuit was brought by a principal, four teachers, and three other school employees.

In one case, one of the principals suggested that his school set up a joint Thanksgiving Day cross-cultural event with a local Jewish school and Ross reportedly told the official “I don’t want anything to do with the Jew school.”

In another case, Ross supposedly told a Muslim teacher that his religion is a threat to the school.
“Your presence is a threat to the safety of our children because your husband or people could come in at any time and blow up this place,” he supposedly said.

The lawsuit also says that several school board members have ignored their complaints about Ross.

Papers filed in United States District Court in White Plains, said Ross had created “a hostile work environment by reasons of race and gender.” The demand for an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages will eventually be decided by a jury.

This is the same school administrator that The New York Times lauded as a visionary educator that had a wonderful “vision of racial harmony.”

”I saw that as a microcosm of America,” Ross told the Times in 2000. ”I grew up in the civil rights era, and I felt that if we could accomplish a change here in Mount Vernon that would be a model for the rest of the country.”

In Mount Vernon, Mr. Ross has earned a reputation as a strong advocate for teachers, said Jeff Yonkers, the president of the Mount Vernon Federation of Teachers. But he is also known for his outspoken approach. ”He will speak to issues most people dance around,” including race, Mr. Yonkers said.

Now we are seeing a bit more specifically what Ross is so “outspoken” about, if this lawsuit is any indication.

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